Cheesecake has been around for thousands of years with its origins being attributed to ancient Greece. There’s evidence that shows cheesecake being served to the first Olympians during the first games in 776 B.C. to increase their energy. The early cheesecake didn’t look anything like what we recognize today. The original was just one mound of cheese mixed with honey and flour, which was cooked in one whole mass and allowed to cool. Today, cheesecake is typically made with cream cheese and a base made out of crushed biscuits, and may or may not come with a variety of toppings. Every region has their own cheesecake variant, but the most famous one in America is the New York cheesecake, which is served plain and without toppings.
- July 30th is National Cheesecake Day.
- American-style cheesecake is technically not a cake, it is a baked cheese custard pie on a crust.
- Arnold Reuben, who is famous for inventing the Reuben Sandwich, is also responsible for inventing the New York Cheesecake.
- Greeks usually used cheesecake as their wedding cakes.
- New Yorkers will contend that the cheesecake wasn’t really cheesecake until it was first created in New York. Confusing? Basically, what they’re saying is only the modern cheesecake that was invented in New York counts as real cheesecake.
Cheesecake Buying Guide
There are two types of cheesecake, baked and no-bake cheesecake. We won’t tell you which one is better because we find both variants to be equally yummy and it just boils down to personal preference. While they’re both made from cream cheese and a crushed cracker crust, they are two completely desserts in terms of texture and taste.
- No-Bake Cheesecake – This is also called chilled cheesecake because this needs to be chilled for it to set properly. No-bake cheesecakes also do not contain flour and eggs but rather some sort of gelatin that is needed for it to set properly. Unbaked cheesecakes are lighter and airier than their baked counterparts as they are whipped until fluffy before being poured into molds. No-bake cheesecakes can also be layered with fresh fruits and different fillings to add different flavor twists.
- Baked Cheesecake – Baked cheesecakes are usually baked in a water bath inside an oven. Since eggs and flour are used in baked cheesecakes, their texture is often on the thicker side and can be described as dense and velvety. Baked cheesecakes (unless it’s New York Cheesecake) are usually topped with blueberries, strawberries, or melted chocolate/caramel.
Another type of cheesecake that’s making waves is the Japanese Cheesecake. This is a totally different animal in itself as it is super airy to the point of it becoming jiggly. Japanese Cheesecake can be described as having the creaminess of a traditional cheesecake but having the airy and fluffy texture of a souffle, best of both worlds!
Cheesecake Production & Farming in Texas
While not as well known outside of Texas, there are actually some bakers that make Texas-Style Cheesecakes which are savory and use Tex-Mex ingredients instead of the standard ingredients that you see on common cheesecakes.
Instead of crushed graham crackers, crushed tortilla chips are used. In addition to cream cheese, sharper cheeses like Colby are added in the cheese mixture as well. Instead of sugar, savory spices like chilies, garlic powder, and hot sauce are added to give it that Tex-Mex twist. Finally, instead of sweet fruit toppings, bell peppers, green onions, and sliced olives are used as toppings. What does it taste like? You’ll have to experience it for yourself, but as a teaser, think of the richest cheese you can imagine that’s blended with your favorite Tex-Mex flavors, in cake form.
If you’re in the mood for more traditional cheesecakes, you don’t have to go further than your local farmers’ market. Almost every farmers’ market has a cheesecake maker that sells fresh cheesecake that’s made with locally sourced ingredients and topped with local fruits in season.
Chemicals, Preservatives, and Additives:
If you opt to go for frozen commercial cheesecakes, you have to take note of the following additives that are commonly used in commercial applications.
- Locust Bean Gum
- Sodium Tripolyphosphate
- Thiamine Mononitrate
- High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Sodium Benzoate
- Natural and Artificial Flavors
Now, this is not an exhaustive list of all the additives found in commercial cheesecakes but you get the idea. These companies usually use the maximum allowed levels by the FDA. If it were up to us, we wouldn’t want to eat anything with ingredients that we don’t use in our own kitchens, much less know the meaning of.
For commercial frozen cheesecakes, they’re usually packed in sealed plastic bags before being packed inside freezer-safe cartons.
Cheesecakes, depending on the variety can be enjoyed cold/chilled or warm. They can be consumed as desserts or with coffee for a nice afternoon treat.
For commercial frozen cheesecake, refer to the packaging for storage information. For cheesecake that has been purchased from a baker, farmers’ market, or homemade, they can be stored in the fridge for up to a week or frozen for up to three months.
Making your own No-bake cheesecake:
Since not everyone has the time (or the oven) to bake a cheesecake, here’s a recipe for one that doesn’t need to be baked.
For the Crust:
200g crushed graham crackers (honey-graham if you have them)
67g (1/3 cup) of brown sugar
115g (1/2 cup) of unsalted butter, melted
For the Cheesecake:
300ml heavy cream
680g (3 8-ounce blocks) of full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
100g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
15g (2 tablespoons) confectioners’ sugar
60g (1/4 cup) sour cream, room temperature
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
To make the crust, mix all of the crust ingredients together and dump them into a 9 or 10-inch springform pan. Pack them as tight as possible, you don’t want them falling apart. Place in the freezer while you are preparing the filling.
Using a mixer, whip cold heavy cream till they form stiff peaks (about 5 minutes)
In a separate container, slowly add the sugar to the cream cheese while whisking (medium speed) until smooth and creamy. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides while doing this. Add the confectioners’ sugar, sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla extract and continue whisking on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes until smooth and well-combined. Make sure that there are no lumps.
Using a spatula, fold in the whipped cream gently until combined. Be careful not to deflate the whipped cream.
Pour the mixture on to the crust and smooth out the top. Cover with cling wrap or foil and refrigerate overnight.
Cut, serve, and enjoy!
Tip: You can top it with your favorite fresh local fruits or preserves from your local farmers’ market for an added fruity twist!